Education Week - August 22, 2018 - 1

Education W


VOL. 38, NO. 1 * AUGUST 22, 2018


AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2018 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 6 


By Francisco Vara-Orta
Newtown, Pa.

Image: Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty

hree swastikas were scrawled on the
note found in the girls' restroom, along
with a homophobic comment and a
declaration: "I Love Trump."
Found inside the backpack of a Latina
student, a note that said: "Go back to Mexico."
Two other hate-filled incidents-invoking Donald
Trump's name and using swastikas-were also
reported that same day.
The school: Council Rock High in this mostly white,
affluent Philadelphia suburb.
The day: Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election of
President Trump.
Superintendent Robert Fraser condemned the
incidents, but told parents he believed they were
isolated events. The acts, he wrote in a letter on Nov.
10, were "inappropriate" and would not be tolerated in
the Council Rock school district. But, he emphasized,
they were "likely the responsibility of a very small
number of individuals whose actions should not
damage the reputation of the larger group."
Soon after, the district formed a council on
diversity, mostly composed of parents, and
took several other steps, including training for
school staff to better identify and respond to
hate incidents. Despite those efforts, Council
Rock High, said some parents and students,
continues to have a culture where racist views
are sometimes boldly expressed, but oftentimes
PAGE 16 >

Clashing Visions as Puerto Rico Schools Open
By Andrew Ujifusa
San Juan, Puerto Rico

As Puerto Rico's schools plunged into a new academic
year last week, some students and staff members were
still grappling with the physical damage and complications wrought by Hurricane Maria's devastation of the
islandwide school system nearly a year ago.
Leaky roofs, overdue repairs, and scarce supplies.

Swikar Patel/Education Week

Hopes for the new
school year vie with
challenges left from
last year's hurricane

Students arrive at Escuela Jesus T. Piñero in Cidra, Puerto Rico, for the first day of school.
The islandwide district is still recovering a year after Hurricane Maria.

Students packed into unfamiliar schools after a wave of
closures and reassignments. Hundreds of teachers still
awaiting placement. Tension and protests over school
conditions, and a move toward charter schools championed by the system's top administrators.
Amid it all is the tenacity of educators and students
determined to see the 2018-19 school year as a fresh
start after the chaos of last year.
Jeremy Hernández Díaz is among them. While the air
conditioning at Escuela Jesus T. Piñero in Cidra wasn't
working in the August heat, and the WiFi was also out
of commission, things were mostly operating smoothly
on the first day back, Aug. 13.
Jeremy, 16, is torn about his future. His father and
brother, who live in Texas, have been working to persuade him to move to the U.S. mainland to go to college and then start the career he wants in engineering.
They've sent Jeremy a clear message: He can make
more money that way.
Still, he is excited for the new school year at Piñero.
And Puerto Rico still has a hold on him and his vision
for his life.
"I don't want to leave my family behind," Jeremy said,
referring to his mother and other siblings. "I'm not that
kind of person."
The slow, painful recovery from last September's
storm adds fuel to the debate over the direction of
Puerto Rico's school system, which already had been
struggling before the storm.
Secretary of Education Julia Keleher has been the
central figure-and a target for critics-in directing the
more than 300,000-student school system's recovery
PAGE 15 >

Parkland Students'
Road Tour Closes
With Calls to Vote
By Stephen Sawchuk
Blacksburg, Va.

They came from all over Virginia, battling
gray weather and buckets of rain, to see the
faces of a student-driven movement that
shows few signs of stopping.
They came by the hundreds, young people
and older ones-at least a third of the attendees were parents, judging by a show of
hands-to hear first-person testimonies from
the survivors of the mass shooting in February
at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland, Fla. They came to learn how they
might be involved in ending gun violence. In a
few cases, they came to protest.
The message they got from the speakers at
this traveling town hall, over and over, was
this: Vote.
As it matured over the course of its
monthslong Road to Change tour through the
United States this summer, the March for Our
Lives movement's broad goal of ending gun
violence increasingly focused on voting, surely
the most essential of all civic responsibilities.
The tour ended Aug. 12, in Newtown, Conn.,
the site of the 2013 Sandy Hook massacre,
following more than 30 stops, including a
rally held outside the National Rifle AssociaPAGE 21 >

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